The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)
Making a Bird of Christmas
A Box of Birds.
Down in the forest something stirs! Deep in the ferro-foliaged, concrete-castellated jungles of Jumbledom, high in the filigreed forests of Finance, down in the dim caves of Commerce, out on the paved and grassless glades of Citydom where the shrill call of the news-piper vies with the wild shriek of the motor-jar and the scream of the savage brake-band, a strange unrest has come upon the birds of boodledom.
There is a feverish fluffing of feathers, a preening of pinions, a wiffling of wings and an overhaul of the fuselage as though in preparation for flight or feast—or both.
Even the old “oof” owl, moping boodleously in his cell of percentance is heard to hoot a gruff acknowledgment of something that stirs within his gilt-edged obscurities.
Out in the leafless labyrinths of Noisedom there is a twittering and twinking on the roosts. The smart young game-cocks, the tweeting type-warblers flitting from job to job, the counter-flappers flipping among the thickets of lip-stick, the garrulous gad-wits, the solemn secretary birds, the roosting stool-pigeons, ground birds and high-fliers, birds of a feather and birds without a feather to fly with, tailor birds, sailor birds, gay warblers, game birds and tame birds, near-birds and queer birds—all the species which roost and boost in the human highways and skyways—seem infected with a strange fever of fervour. There is a whirring and stirring in the concrete coppices and crags. There is a fluttering in the domains of Domesticity where thousands of homing-birds are preparing to moult their plumes on the ocean's edge, to abandon their family trees, to disown the nest-egg of dull discretion, and to flap a flippant wing in far flight.
Already the first tin-trumpeting of fledglings is heard on the hills of Suburbia, heralding the season of peace, plenty and youthful bedlam, when the seed of goodwill is broadcast over the land and the pickings are plenteous.
All the birds of the air Are
a'flyin’ and a'bobbin',
For they've heard it's the season
Of social hob-nobbin'.
All the roosts are a'throb
With something impending,
There's hopping and hoping
Ne'er a bird of the air
Is a'sighin’ or sobbin',
For there's sun in the eye
And the heart is a'throbbin',
They sing on the bough
Of the old Christmas tree,
Of wide open spaces
And things that are free.
The bill-birds are singing,
A song without words,
For ‘tis Christmas and life
Is a fair “box of birds.”
Flying the Coop.
Something happens in the heart of every bird when December bursts above the craggy peaks of dumb endeavour. Wilted wings are exchanged for highflying flippers. The top of the tree is no longer high enough. For at Christmas tide time is untied, the spirit flies the coop and the mind is jacked up for repairs. It's a pity that every day isn't Christmas Day, but it's good in the silly season to give the subordinated ego an airing and to hang out the page 63 spiritual underclothes to dry on the line of least resistance. It is good to make a raid on the strong-room of the guarded emotions with the blow-lamp of abandon and the jemmy of jubilation.
Buy, Buy Blackbird!
Perhaps the greatest boon of the boony season is the excuse it offers to recognise the humanity of man …. the bond that binds …. with tangible token. The Christmas gift is a cash-order on kindliness, a halt for thought. Even if you are of, the kind whose ability to buy the right gift for the wrong person amounts to inverted genius your act is an achievement in remembrance. For, to buy a gift for, say, little Willie—the hoodoo and horror of his relatives—indicates that you have paused to think, perhaps even a little leniently, of the youthful menace. Your thought may be tinged with deep regret for stones thrown through glasshouses, blocked drains, mutilated radios and such like domestic frightfulness from which the Prince of Darkness himself might shrink. But, in the giving of a gift, one is bound to think up some virtue in the giftee or brand himself a blithering idiot—and nobody will willingly do that. Anyway there are always others more than willing to do it for him.
In such acts of forgiveness repose the seeds of sweet charity and temporary forgiveness from which springs -the spirit of Christmas.
The Gift of Gifts.
Buying gifts is a gift. Anyone can lope into Willwoth's, shut his eyes and grab assorted fistsful of rubber ducks, Micky Mouse calendars and suchlike jimcracks irrespective of the tastes and preferences of the intended victims. But, to put one's self over big by procuring something subtly suited to the recipients’ psycho-thingamies, demands a combination of second-sight, mind-reading, Yogiism, Voodoo-ism, Symbolism, hypnotism, despotism, desperation and scientific detection.
Making a Bird Of It.
The only sure method is to begin snooping on the intended victims of your generosity months before the happy season and studying them in their own homes where they can be themselves without hurting anyone else.
By this means you note that grandpa always comes up blowing after immersion in his cup of tea. Consequently you buy him a moustache cup and so escape the embarrassment of presenting him with a surf board or a rubber whale.
If you note that a friend upon whom you are determined to commit kindness frequents milk bars you may safely buy him a mug with Donald Duck on it, or a choclate mouse. If, on the other hand, he likes bars but dislikes milk, you will buy him a quart of gin or an ice-bag for his head.
If you discover, after lying in the laurels for several nights that your Aunt Hermoine chews tobacco in secret, you are set if you get her a Popeye brooch or a gilt sextant to enable her to take a shot at the sun. Either of these is more subtle than a plug of Niggerhead twist.
If you are a husband you buy your wife the best pipe procurable, and if a wife you buy your husband six pairs of the best silk stockings. This prevents misunderstanding and mental exhaustion and someone is bound to be pleased.
If you have children you can safely get them all the things they don't want and then blame it on to Father Christmas. Taking it full and buy, Christmas giftitude is the greatest gift of all.
So, here's to a merry Christmas and may you receive as good as you give.page 64